Recently people from our small group at church volunteered to help one of our members, a teacher, at her intermediate school during wax museum night.
The night consisted of two parts in separate buildings; One part was the ‘museum’ where children dressed up as historical figures and stood like wax figures while telling the story of themselves. The other half of the night was knowledge based games and then pizza.
The game hubby and I were in charge of didn’t appear to have a name but there were 7 descriptions of people in history and what their accomplishments were. Each was labeled with a number 1-7. The answer sheet had numbers 1-7 one side and letters A-G with the names to match them on the other. Each number matched one of the letters/names.
Jackie Robinson arrived at our table as did Betsy Ross, Thomas Jefferson, Sacagawea and many others. Being a title one school filled with children in great need, the majority of the costumes were what bits and pieces they could find put together with incredible creativity. Thomas Jefferson’s mom crocheted his hair (It was impressive really) Betsy Ross had mom’s skirt and blouse, a 7″ flag and a spool of thread.
Many of the children’s parents stood behind them as they read the pages and marked their answers even when they did not understand the language it was written in. Parents would nudge their child and ask a question or just prod them to stay focused and do their best. Those kids were so excited when they got the answers correct! When children got stuck, I was there to guide them. Hubby graded and gave out hand stamps and candy. Everyone got a hand stamp but you had to have 5 out of 7 correct for candy.
Hubby and I had a great time right up to the moment a Dad said in a frustrated, very rude tone; “Just fill in the blanks, I’m hungry.” Truthfully I felt like time stood still. His son was excited, having fun and wanted to read and answer questions correctly. He paused, looked away then sighed and wrote a number in each blank, never reading a word off the big poster. Hubby check it, gave him a hand stamp and would not look at the Dad. I on the other hand felt like staring at him (I probably was in reality) as if my thoughts would be transferred through osmosis, How could you? What the heck are you doing? Did you just say that? My heart broke for this 5th grade boy.
They moved to the next game. You see, the kids needed to play three games before they could go eat the pizza. A simple way to encourage kids and show them they were smart and could succeed. There were boxes of pizza stacked up just waiting for the families. The wait for Dad to eat would have been about 7-10 minutes or so.
The drive home was full of stories of amazing children, how smart they were, how creative the costumes were but, there was also a small thread of anger towards a parent that had no interest in what this night meant for his son nor any time to invest in his child.
Four weeks have passed and I have not forgotten this man. Maybe 30 years old, Baseball cap, a days’ growth of a beard, white T-shirt and jeans dirty from his day’s work, tired eyes and at his son’s school activity. I am working on grace in my heart. These are the positives I found to celebrate; Dad actually showed up. There was no mom in site so Dad probably works very hard at many things. The boy has a love for learning and his teachers find fun and inventive ways to encourage not just him, but the other children as well. The teachers gather volunteers that are not attached to the school to put on these events so the kids can include their families. They all went to bed with full bellies that night.
Each of us received a thank you letter from one of the children showing the letter writing skills they are learning and the manners they have been taught. Everyone in our group smiled and passed them around the following week,
I would like to encourage you to take a moment when you are with someone who is excited about something that interests them. Celebrate their passion and joy. Celebrate their desire to learn and celebrate the time you get to share with them. Live in the moment, its beautiful there!